If you missed the first chapter, start here!
Jake and Brutus were waiting on the sidewalk in front of the church in the morning. Penelope took in Jake’s freshly-shaved face and neatly combed hair. “You’re looking better than I thought you would after a hard night of drinking,” she said after she kissed him.
“Brutus wagged his tail and knocked over the drinks on the coffee table at about ten and we decided to call it a night.” He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear that had come loose from her ponytail. “How’d you sleep?”
“I have a pink canopy bed with ruffles in the room where I’m staying, the chihuahua cried to go outside every two hours, and at three in the morning there were cats fighting outside under the window.” She rubbed her eyes. “And maybe I missed you just a little.”
Jake nodded. “Luckily I had Brutus to fill your position of snoring and accidentally kicking me in the back in the middle of the night.”
“I don’t snore! And you’ll be lucky if the kicking is accidental after today.”
“Good morning!” The Reverend Miller had walked down the steps from the rectory while they were talking. “The two of you look very chipper this morning.”
Jake shook hands with the reverend and they exchanged pleasantries. “Brutus and I were just out for a walk, but I was wondering if I could come by later to talk to you.”
CJ beamed. “Finally making an honest woman of Penelope then? Congratulations! I’d be honored to officiate.”
Penelope snorted. “I’m already the most honest woman he knows.”
“Of course you are, and that’s why I love you.” Jake turned back. “But no, that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about. It’s a work thing. About your neighbor Jezza.”
CJ colored. “Oh dear. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…”
Jake waved away his apology. “If I can ever get her to say yes, you’ll be the first person we talk to.”
Penelope leaned back to look up at his face. “I can’t very well give you an answer if you don’t ask a question.”
Jake held up a finger. “Excuse me for a moment, Father.” He turned his whole body to face Penelope. “November 22nd. Two-thirty in the afternoon.”
She brought out her phone to check her schedule and thought back to where she’d been on that day. “The Cubs game? Wait, you were serious? You were kidding. Weren’t you?”
“Is this the face of a man who kids about the Cubs or getting married?”
“I might have to take a Mulligan then.”
Jake shook his head. “No points for mixing sports. And I’ve already done my part. It’s your turn.” He put a finger on her lips as she opened her mouth. “And none of this ‘oh, by the way’ business because clearly a big production is needed.” He turned back to CJ. “But really I came by to ask if Jezza kept anything in your disaster room.”
After one of the Victorian houses had burned down with all the copies of one family’s pictures, CJ had opened up one room of the stone church to anyone who wanted to store pictures or documents there for safekeeping. The priest furrowed his brow. “I think she might have left a lockbox there a while back. I can check…” He turned, then stopped. “That is, I can check after the service.” He gestured toward the church.
“Of course. I’ll give you a call later and set up a time to come by.” He took off his scarf and snugged it around Penelope’s neck. “I’ll see you later.” He tugged on Brutus’ leash and they started walking away. “Big production,” he repeated over his shoulder.
Penelope shook her head and went inside the rectory to take care of the needy Dalmatian while CJ went to lead the service.
(Comments, requests, and suggestions all welcome!)